Muncaster Castle is taking steps to be environmentally friendly, with plans for the installation of solar panels and even the creation of a home for bugs – called Bugingham Palace.

An application has been submitted to Copeland council to install solar panels on the Meadow Vale Maze, which used to be the old bear pit in the 1970s.

Peter Frost-Pennington of the castle said: “At Muncaster we are passionate about the environment and protecting it for future generations of visitors to enjoy. Climate change is a huge issue for everyone. It has therefore been an aspiration of ours to reduce our use of fossil fuels in operating Muncaster with an aim to become carbon neutral if possible.”

In 2019 a ground source heat pump was installed to warm the main core of the castle. Electricity is needed to generate the owners would like to be able to generate the electricity themselves.

Peter said: “At peak visitor demand we have peak electricity requirements in the café and elsewhere on site including the castle. Once the solar panels are installed, if we do produce any surplus electricity this can be supplied to the National Grid. We also hope to install electric vehicle charge points for the use of guests in our car parks to encourage visitors to arrive in an environmentally friendly way if at all possible, although this will be a future add-on if our current planning application is successful.

“We are trying to balance as best we can fitting new technology into an historic environment, but this has happened through the ages at Muncaster anyway; this is a living landscape looking to the future as well as honouring the past. We believe we need to do whatever we can to protect the environment and nurture the planet and hopefully be a good example for others to follow.

“Our eldest son Ewan is an energy consultant and has been instrumental in driving these aspirations forward. The investment will take a long time to payback but will have instant benefits for the environment and ultimately will make Muncaster more sustainable in the long run.”

Muncaster was able to reopen the gardens in March and the Hawk and Owl Centre on April 12.